Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum
1st class tourist coach BL356
BL 356 is a non-airconditioned first-class sitting car which was built by Hudson Brothers and entered service in 1890. This carriage has a timber frame with a two-truss steel underframe and rides on two steel, timber spring plank bogies (2AA 6072/number not known). It has a mansard roof with square ends constructed with timber and covered in canvas. Its body is sheathed in plywood sheets on the sides and tongue and groove slats on the ends. It has wooden framed single pane lift windows with rectangular crown lights spaced regularly down the sides. The carriage has square ends with end doors and couplings with buffers. It is fitted with an electrical generator which is missing its belt. The carriage can be entered through a central doorway on each side or through the end doors. The interior features two seating saloons divided by a central entrance vestibule and a toilet at diagonally opposite ends. Movement through the carriage is via a central aisle. Each saloon has rows facing double seats with either half or full partitions. The carriage is currently under restoration and one saloon cleared of seats for this purpose. The floor is constructed of timber and is lined with compressed fibre board. The walls are lined with horizontal timber boards below the windows and varnished timber above this. The ceiling is lined with painted plywood. A steel water tank is located near the ceiling supplying the car using gravity.
BL 356 was originally numbered No. 5, and re-numbered 356 and coded BI in October, 1892. In May, 1933, the original body was gutted and rebuilt to its present corridor saloon BL design, retaining only some features of its original undergrame and roof, and the carriage was formed into CUB close-coupled set No. CUB 85. It was withdrawn from service and condemned in May, 1985
BL 356 is one of the relatively few surviving examples of the "Thow" style of carriage building of the late nineteenth century which were common vehicles on the NSW railway system for many years. It displays to some features of that era in the adoption of standardised standardised body construction, common components and steel fabrication for carriage underframes by the NSW Railways. Equally important is that this car displays the result of a complete change in body design brought about by passenger rejection of the original all-compartment design and substitution on the same underframe of a saloon body more suited to travelling in the middle of the twentieth century. This car has performed as part of the early twentieth century urban railway services and the mid twentieth century tourist railway services in NSW and has strong period aesthetic qualities. The alterations to the car demonstrates how the railways adapted carriages in line with technological and commercial developments.
BL 356 is currently being restored in Valley Heights roundhouse.